Saturday, March 13, 2010
With spring approaching, this is a good time to consider making any gardening or landscape planting an area to support pollinators. Very few modifications from traditional planting techniques are necessary. To be of great value to the pollinators, the planting should be planned to provide a continuous succession of blooming plants. A diversity of plants also helps assure that the honey bees, bumble bees, carpenter bees, solitary bees, and other insect pollinators receive good nutrition. Nesting habitat for bumble bees and ground-burrowing solitary bees can be provided by providing some bare, sandy soil. For a planting to be of use to pollinators, one should be cautious in the use of chemical pesticides. Today’s picture shows one of our native pollinators, the blue orchard bee. Here, it is seen pollinating a watermelon flower. Watermelon is one of the plants that is completely dependent upon insect pollinators to produce fruit. To provide nesting places for blue orchard bees, hang bundles of pithy-centered reeds or leave standing dead tree trunks. These solitary bees lay eggs in the hollow-stems of plants and abandoned beetle holes in dead trees. One third of our diet depends upon pollination from insects. The honey bee is the principal agricultural pollinator. Its natural home is a cavity in a hollow tree. Beekeepers house the honey bee in modern wooden hives that replicate hollow trees.